Basing on happiness outside ourself, even our most precious treasure achieved can easily becomes a dream of yesterday. The Daishonin teaches that " earthly desires are enlightenment ". Sufferings..the greater the better, it is only with such obstacles that we can truly apply an earnest resolve in our prayer to over come and fulfilled our desire and transformed our lives to a higher state of condition Buddhahood. This happiness is the Treasure of our Heart, and it is indestructible.
This is my experience in cherishing the Gohonzon deep in my heart.
I first heart of Nam myoho renge kyo in 1969(age 11) when my father enshrined the Gohonzon. We were told that all our prayers will be answered if we just chant, and found this hard to believe. But now I can say it's all really true.
My parents worshipped all kinds of deities and our house was like a temple. To my dad, who did not truly understand the practice then, the Gohonzon was an addition to the many deities by means of the more the merrier.
My family situation got from bad to worse. In 1973 my eldest brother age 27 got married, and when his son was three months old he met an accident and bled to death with no one helping to sent him to hospital. My mother knocks her forehead againts the floor infront of all her Gods and Deities and asked what have she done wrong..since then she became very ill. About three months later my father passed away, and during this time some members came with the Gohonzon and we were asked to chant together for thirty minutes. After this we were asked to have a look on my dad's face, to my surprised he looked so calm and relax. This was the first time I felt there is some kind of power in chanting. In addition after this, my second brother was at the verge of bankruptcy. With debts all around our waists, we decided to move away to as far as possible to avoid the creditors. While clearing out the things, we found the black box with the Gohonzon inside, full of dust and cobweds. We decided to return the Gohonzon to my dad's friend and ask him to sent it back to Japan.
THE GREATEST TREASURE OF ALL
we were told that this Gohonzon left by my dad for us is the greatest of all treasures in the entire universe. He told us with great conviction. " take it home and chant for two weeks, and if nothing happen I will cut off my head for you."
With nothing to lose, my brother and I enshrined the Gohonzon in my room. Our initial experience with chanting was comical. When we started to chant for about two minutes we broke into laughter and both of us was rolling on the floor. We told each other let's be serious and started to chant again, then the same thing happen again..this was the first time in a long while that we had felt this kind of happiness. Like Sensei say, when one begin to chant with an earnest resolve the sun of Hope will rise in our heart and the darkness of our life will be dispelled. From here on with this feeling of Hope and Courage we never look back and begin chanting daimoku everyday without fail.
Then we started to participate in our SGM activities. The journey to each meeting to and fro would take us six hours. After reaching home each time I would relate whatever I have learned to my mum who was then very very ill, both mentally and physically, whether she listen or not I'll just go on talking to her. I told her that all our sufferings were due to the causes we made in our past lives, and all this can be changed through our strong faith in the Gohonzon. All poison will become medicine, sufferings will become happiness and misfortune will be followed by great good fortune. After three months of hard shakubuku she finally agreed to chant, I was so happy and lead her to my room and we chanted together. After about a week her health begin to improve and six months later she was like normal again. With her belief and understanding, she chanted Six to seven hours of daimoku each day. In fact, she prolonged her life for another 30 happy years. During this time my 3 sisters also took faith.
Understanding and accepting this to be our karma, we made a vow and determined to change it no matter what. With the confident, courage and unity, we sent away all the statues and deities and decided to moved back to our hometown and start all over again. It was though though as we were still in debts and were buffeted like a small boat on a rough sea.
TO CHANGE AN UNCHANGEABLE DESTINY.
A fortune teller once told us that our family had an extremely bad fate or karma and we would "vanish" one after another and nothing, not even god can save us. As for me he said that I would not live pass the age of 21, I would either die in an accident, a fight or sickness. Fortunately I had the Gohonzon..with my belief and understanding I determined not be be defeated. Defeat for a Buddhist lies not in encountering difficulties, but rather in not challenging them. Difficulties only truly become our karma or destiny if we run away from them without a struggle. We must fight for as long as we live. We must live and struggle with great determination to the end..say sensei.
At age 17 while racing on my motorbike I suddenly went blacked out and rammed into a wall below a flyover. Then I saw my own body lying there and how I was sent to hospital and as the light in the OT room light was on on me, I went into total darkness, feeling extremely cold and the only sound I heard was Nam myoho renge kyo. My mother was chanting for me non stop. After 3 days and 3 nights, fortunately I awake with all my memory intact. The doctors had predicted otherwise.
Then at the age of 19, I started my first interior design and furnishing company only for about six months. One night when I was alone at my office a family debtor and a heavily tattooed guy came and demanded for repayment. When I say I could not pay them at that moment they started to smashed everything in my office and threw anything they can catch hold on me. Strangely I was calm and could controlled my temper, fervently chanting daimoku in my heart. And when he took a piece or sharp wood wanted to poke my eyes, I lost my patience. Just as I was about to react, strangely the debtor's friend pulled him out and after a while they left. Later when I went to make my report at the police station he was there too but with bandages on head and face, he was involve in a fight. And I told the police that this was the guy and he was arrested.
A year later, I was admitted to hospital with a lung collapsed, filled with fluid and blood, the doctors immediately drilled a hole into my chest, inserted a tube and pumped out the fluid. I was x-rayed almost everyday after a few days it was done and my skin become yellowish. After this the exterior of my lungs began to be filled, this was not good and the doctors ordered an extraction to begin immediately from my back. I have to be seated with my hands rested on a table while they inserted a long needle into my back. After a while it was removed, and I ask " Doc. Is it done?". he say no the insertion was not at the right spot. So was inserted again, fortunately this time was right but after half way through I nearly fainted and the process need to stop, it was more then half a jug and the doctors say there is still about the same amount inside that need to be remove tomorrow. I was very weak by then and when my mum visited me that evening I told her "Mum..I don't think I can make through again tomorrow ". With tears in eyes she said," Son..you were the one who said everything can be transformed with Faith, how can you give up?".with those words, I felt a strong Hope and Courage dwelling within me," I must win in this no matter what ".With every of my breath I chanted Nam myoho renge kyo. The next morning arrive and I was brought to the same room. This time was very strange, as I seat down and the process begin it was just like I have just chanted one time Nam myoho renge kyo the doctor removed the needle and I ask him is it that it was wrongly inserted again? He say no it's all done, it's already about half an hour and he showed me the jug which was filled to the same amount extracted yesterday. After two days the x-Ray showed that my lungs was fully expanded back to normal, or otherwise I'll need to go for an operation. I recovered in 3 months, in half the predicted time by the doctor.
MISSION IN SABAH.
Sabah, it's city, Kota Kinabalu is two and a half hour flight by air from my home town Klang,Selangor.
After my recovery it was back to all over again. Then I was offered a job in Sabah, with the guidance from my Sgm leaders that this is my mission to propagate Buddhism there I accepted it. I went with only RM 170 cash in my pocket and celebrated my 21st birthday there. It was just like being reborn to a new place.
I worked there for 11 months, then in 1981 I started an interior design and furnishing business again but with two partners. At the same time, I also initiated with the start of our first Sgm discussion in Kota Kinabalu with only four person. The number of members grew very fast, and so did our business too. In 1983 we had 135 new shakubuku who recieved their Gohonzon from the priest who then came to Sabah.
In 1984, I got married and ventured out into my own business with more then a million rm.project in hand, but unfortunately were also hit by the recession time in our country. Shortly after, my wife conceived and as the foetus grew bigger and bigger my business began to drop further and further. Finally when my daugther was born after a 20 hours labour and by C-section, I was at the verge of bankruptcy ...my office and factory were sealed by the court and the bank gave us notice to move our of our very first own house.
Here I recall the quote of sensei; The practice of Daishonin Buddhism means living with the unshakeable conviction that the most painful and suffering times, are opportunity for changing our karma, for doing our human revolution and that no matter how dificult the situation..we will ultimately be able to transform them into something positive and benefits for our lives without fail.
By the Belief and understanding and with 6 hours of daimoku, I strangely felt joy and courage filled my heart. Despite all that, cradling my baby girl in my arms left me speechless with even greater joy. I was so poor then that I could only pay the doctor with a post dated cheque, with only RM5.00 I can't even buy my wife post- natal food. When the date came for the clearance of the cheque approached my financial side did not improve, so we had to sell off all our wedding jewelleries. For about 4 months, instant noodle was our all- day favourite food.Things got so bad that I even sold off my wife's last most precious thing..her wedding ring. Despite this tough times, joy and laughter never left us. We were confident that with our strong Faith everything is possible and all misfortune will be followed by great good fortune. I vowed to prove the power of this Mystic Law by standing up from where I fell without borrowing a single cent from anyone. And as the gosho reads " The colder the Winter the nearer to Spring and the darker the night the nearer to dawn."
One afternoon, I met a debtor and told him of my impoverished state- we not only totally run out of food but the milk for our daughter too. Along our discussion I even talked to him about Buddhism. He chided me, saying, " Look what this practice has done to you. Yet, you are still telling people to chant! " I told him that is the reason why I'm practicing so hard to change my karma. When I reach home the first thing my wife reminds me that this was the last fed of milk for our baby..then I say " feed her with yours lol".Then she replied " where I got anymore ..." and broke into laughter. Told her not to worry, let me finish my 2 hours daimoku first. That very evening, this debtor I met earlier unexpectedly came to my house just after my chanting, gave me RM100.00 and left. It was as if I was dreaming. The Daishonin teaches us that we can definitely defeat the devilish functions and the Buddhist god will definitely appeared right at the moment when we needed most even if he is from 10,000 miles away. That is why we must be firmly resolved in our Faith with the spirit of our mentor.
It was also at this time our first SGM's contribution for building our Main Kaikan in Kuala Lumpur approached, which I've pledge to contribute RM10.000.00 a year earlier. But now I don't even have RM10.00, understanding the significance of this, I told my wife that no matter what I must repay my debts of gratitude. We decided to sell the last "valuable" thing at home-our refrigerator for RM1,000.00 and contributed that amount.
I was the YMD chief in charge at that time, and the whole ceremony went very successfully. After this on my way home I was pursued and stopped by a staff of the finance company that was suing me. However, I was in for a huge surprise. Instead of being chased for payment, I was given a job to furnish a house within 14 days, budgeted at RM40,000.00. I was given RM20,000.00 cash in advance and later another 16 units of semi-detached houses to furnished. Within a year I was back in good business. Strangely I had also renovated four Goldsmith shops which landed me with More then RM100,000.00 of bad debts which the owners repaid with jewelleries instead. So, as a great benefit, my wife's wedding jewelleries were replaced ten times and with a bigger diamond ring.
TO BE FEARLESS NO MATTER WHAT with a spirit of never giving up with even GREATER HOPE AND COURAGE.
Then in 1987 when my son was born, my business was again fall to the verge of bankruptcy. I had lost almost everything and had to move to a rural area. With even greater determination to start all over again, this time with my most earnest resolve to strive and change once and for all this Karma to become a great Mission in my life to propagate this Buddhism for the Happiness of all Humanity. As taught by our mentor, apply the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other and make this great VOW to achieve Kosen rufu. When we unite our hearts with our mentor and chant with FIRM resolve, we can summon forth unimaginable power and strength from within our own Life.
Strengthening my Faith even deeper, more daimoku and greater shakubuku. From a small single jobs of a few thousand ringgit, my business begins to double up each month and grew until I secured projects worth over RM2 millions. From within 5 to 8 years, I was abie to clear all my debts, buy lands, build my own factory and even my Million ringgit dream house on a hill.
Now after 36 years of earnest practice in this Faith, I truly Belief and understand that there is no path to attaining Buddhahood apart from struggling for Kosen rufu together with our mentor Ikeda sensei, and practice with his spirit. With our Faith in this, our lives will fuse with our mentors and their lives state of Buddhahood will act to manifest ours. This joy is the greatest joy of the world of Buddhahood that can defeat even the fundamental darkness and overcome any adversity.
It has proven to me the truth of our practice, that all our prayers will definitely be answered. More importantly, nothing is more valuable then the happiness of my Heart. Thanks to all my daimoku and sufferings, it is truly the mother of realization, the raw material with which to construct our Happiness. "Fundamentally, with Faith in the Gohonzon, everything that happens is a benefit."I have all I wanted.. Most of all a very happy family with my daughter a practicing Lawyer now and my son soon to be an architect, both are also very active in SGM. My only desire now is to share Nichiren's Buddhism with as many people as possible, contributing the rest of my life for Kosen-rufu.
With my best regards to all of you.
"THANK YOU.". Stephen Lim from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.